Skip to main content
2:00 am
crime scene. >> you can almost recreate the crime. >> right there on the wall. a mystery scrawled in blood. three cryptic letters. what would you make of this? >> is that a word? is that a person? the clues pointed so many different directions, that it was a total mystery. >> the case, the murder of a former model and flight attendant. >> when she got dolled up, oh, my god. gorgeous. >> did she write these letters? >> she really fought for her life. >> was this a hint who killed her? >> you got a message saying this was my killer. like in a movie. >> and the ending, that was just like a movie too. >> i can't believe what people do to each other. >> "written in blood." welcome to "dateline," everyone. i'm lester holt. roc. tonight those three little letters will tell a story all
2:01 am
their own. but there's something else that you'll want to pay close attention to in this case. another clue just as crucial and easy to overlook. a pizza delivery on the night of the murder. because of that, what would help deliver the killer right to the detectives' front door. here's dennis murphy. >> if year round sun and water is your thing, florida's west coast should be high on your checkout list of places to live. it was for pretty karen pannell. once the one-time model and flight attendant got sand in her shoes, she never looked back. >> she loved the beach. diving, boating, wildlife. and i remember just jumping off the boat and going to little islands. having picnics and coming back at sunset. just so much fun. >> good friend kathryn worked the counter at american airlines in tampa with karen.
2:02 am
if you were a frazzled passenger and who isn't these days, karen was the antedote. >> she was very pretty. smart, smiled all the time. >> but when the always capable and reliable karen didn't show up for her saturday morning shift on october 11, 2003, clearly something was wrong. her boyfriend tim parmentor had tried calling her at home. >> when she wasn't at work or answering her calls, i started to get worried. but it was a couple hours before i really got panicky about it. >> he went over to her condo. the front door was unlocked. a bad sign. he said he stepped inside and looked to the right to the kitchen. >> i saw her body. and i knew immediately. there was no doubt in my mind she was dead. i picked up the phone and called 911.
2:03 am
>> she is lying on the floor. there's blood everywhere. >> karen pannell on her back, bloody. a murder victim in her own home. detective michael holbrook would lead the investigation. >> tim was in the front yard. he's hysterical. he actually threw up in the front yard. he was so upset over finding hi girlfriend. >> deputies gave him a chance to collect himself in the back seat of an air conditioned patrol car. that's where he placed a car to karen's friend kathryn with the unimaginable news. >> he said kathryn, it's tim. i'm at karen's apartment. she's laying on the floor. there's blood everywhere and she'd been stabbed. >> stabbed? >> stabbed. it's a horrible way. it's really a horrible way to die. >> karen, the baby of the family with five older brothers suddenly gone. she'd been especially close to her oldest brother mike.
2:04 am
>> my brother called me. i was at the airport, and said you better sit down. and he said karen's been murdered. >> any theories about what had happened? >> i don't know. i was trying to figure out the why. and relying on the police to do what they needed to do. >> and what they had to do was plenty. they processed the crime scene, filmed every inch of karen's home, knocked on doors, tried to figure out just who their victim was. detective holbrook started with the man who made that 911 call. >> the first thing a lead investigator will do is talk to the people closest to her. in this case we had timothy permentor.
2:05 am
we took him back to the office and talked to him extensively. >> gave a rundown of where he'd been up to the hours leading to the discovery. he said he'd popped in briefly on karen the night before to leaf a photograph of kittens he knew his girlfriend would find irresistible. tim said he left around 7:30. and that was the last time he saw karen alive. >> wouldn't it have been your routine to spend the night? >> not on a friday night, no. because she had to work the next day. she had to go into work early. >> after saying good-bye to karen, he said he ended up spending the night with friends about an hour to the north. >> is he saying anything at this point like he can't do it or no suspicions. any of that stuff out of him? >> no. he's been cooperative. >> there appeared to have been a struggle at his house. forensic specialist cox asesed
2:06 am
the aftermath. >> she put up a heck o a struggle. she had wounds, the way her body was contorted. she really fought for her life. >> do you suck in your breath and say my goodness or have you seen everything at this point? >> oh, i can't believe what people do to each other. and it was terrible. it's terrible. >> around back, cox, the crime scene tech, found the security bolt on a sliding glass door had been dislodged and there were other signs of tampering. there was a cable box that was open. then you think to yourself somebody caugut the wires. there was a knocked over birdbath. there was evidence outside that at first you need to think to yourself i think this might be a burglary. >> and karen's overturned purse on the stove top supported the break in theory. anna cox took an inventory of everything at the crime scene. a pizza box, a garden glove, a grocery receipt.
2:07 am
all routine findings so far. but it's what authorities spotted next on the wall just above the body that would turn this case into something out of the movies. a three letter message in blood. you didn't have to squint to make it out. roc. on the victim, her finger was clearly stained with blood. roc. what was the murdered woman trying to tell the cops? >> all these theories were running through my mind. what does that mean? is that a word? is that a person? is that a thing? the clues pointed so many different directions. that it really was -- it was a total mystery. >> there's a concept in the law known as a dying declaration. with those three letters scrawled in karen's old blood lead to the apprehension of her killer? when we come back, investigators dig in two that three-letter mystery. >> you've got this scrawled in blood message saying this is my
2:08 am
killing. >> absolutely. >> who or what was roc? when "written in blood" continues. it's time to change the way we clean. it's time to free ourselves from the smell and harshness of bleach. and free ourselves from worrying about the ones we love. new lysol power & free has more cleaning power than bleach. how? the secret is the hydrogen peroxide formula. it attacks tough stains and kills 99.9% of germs. new lysol power & free. powerful cleaning that's family friendly. another step forward in our mission for health.
2:09 am
[ female announcer ] you can always measure the growth of your children by the way they clean themselves in the bathroom. try charmin ultra strong. with a new duraclean texture, charmin ultra strong helps you get clean. plus it's four times stronger than the leading value brand. and you can use up to four times less. good news for even the biggest kids in the family. we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin ultra strong?
2:10 am
but first you've got to get him to say, "hello." new crest 3d white arctic fresh toothpaste. use it with these 3d white products, and whiten your teeth in just 2 days. new crest 3d white toothpaste. life opens up when you do. new crest 3d white toothpaste. wooohooo....hahaahahaha! oh...there you go. wooohooo....hahaahahaha! i'm gonna stand up to her! no you're not. i know. you know ronny folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico sure are happy. how happy are they jimmy?
2:11 am
happier than a witch in a broom factory. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. karen pannell. she was both hard to miss and hard to forget. just ask her boyfriend tim
2:12 am
permenter. >> what did you think of her? >> she was beautiful. >> you were pinching yourself. luckiest man around. >> oh, yeah. she was one of the best women i'd ever known. i thought she was the one. one i could settle down with. >> settling down hadn't been part of karen's life growing up. she and her siblings had been raised as military brats. now they were flying from parts of the country for her funeral. shocked and in mourning for the sister who had been their glue. >> all the boys kind of got involved in our own stuff. but then there was karen. she was really what connected all of us to the family unit. >> what does that tell us about her? >> she was a lot more important to us than we knew. i think she was always more interested in family as a whole than she was in herself. >> brother mike wasn't alone in thinking his kid sister could have been a sky's the limit
2:13 am
person. >> she could have been anything she wanted. a scientist or a doctor or whatever. she was just really nimble minded. >> her friends loved her. >> she was hard not to love. >> even harder to forget what a cruel fate she suffered at the hands of a killer unknown. >> during the viewing, there were visible stab wounds on her hand. so we kind of would pull the flowers down a little farther. >> a few days after the murder, her many friends at the airport said their good-byes. >> there's a chapel in the main terminal in tampa at the airport. there was so many people there from all different airlines. the security people. it was incredible. >> meanwhile, the sheriff's department investigation was moving quickly on several fronts. first they validated boyfriend tim's story. he said after visiting karen early that evening, he spent the
2:14 am
night with a friend named george solomon in moon lake about an hour to the north. >> he did, in fact, go up to where george solomon was staying with his girlfriend. this was confirmed with interviews with george and george's girlfriend. george gave up a timeline that was consistent with what permenter gave us. >> tim's story about the night of the murder checked out. he even voluntarily came clean on something from the start. he had a record. he'd done time. >> now, early on in your life you get involved in trouble. what was going on with you? >> i was running an escort service. and got stupid. started it up small, basically. running an ad out of a newspaper. getting a small office and it expanded from there. it ballooned. >> what kind of money were you taking per week? >> i was grossing $6,000 to $7,000 a day? >> a day?
2:15 am
>> yes. >> and you're how old? >> 20. why go to school when i'm making this kind of money? >> why go straight? >> yes, sir. >> and it ended up in a gun fight? >> yes, sir. >> he was worried he'd be painted as a bad guy right away because of his past. he promised to cooperate in every way possible. the cops took him up on it. >> i allowed them to photograph me, removed all my clothing. i allowed them to take everything from my home that they wanted. >> there was nothing about his clothing, his person, his car that led us to believe he was involved in any other way than he was. >> tim permenter's alibi had checked out. karen had been stabbed 16 times. an attack so ferocious it could only be a crime of passion. now detectives were desperate to find out what their biggest clue
2:16 am
of all meant. the three letters in blood. roc. this is a creepy scene. you've got this scrawled in blood message saying this is my killer. i'm dead but you find this guy. that's what it's suggesting, isn't it? >> absolutely. just like you would see in a movie. >> detectives soon discovered how those letters on the wall were connected to her. roc was a person. the name of a person who had spelled trouble for karen in the past. >> roc was an ex-boyfriend who karen pannell had trouble with previously. >> and whoever or wherever this roc was, he just became the prime target of the investigation into her murder. >> well, there it is. that's what she meant to right then. and they have to follow that lead. off they go. >> to find roc. >> to find rc. measure accomplished. find him, they do. >> what do you think she saw in
2:17 am
you? >> the bad boy kind of thing. >> what would they find next? >> i'm looking at murder. somebody's talking to me about a
2:18 am
2:19 am
2:20 am
scene with a first glance of a cryptic message written in blood. roc. but it wasn't a big mystery for long. nothing da vinci code about it. roc was the unusual but proper spelling of karen pannell's ex-boyfriend. >> tell me about the former boyfriend known as roc. who was he? >> roc was an ex-boyfriend. he'd had a little bit of legal problems. little bit of substance abuse problems. >> roc had a personality as big
2:21 am
and loud as the pipes on the harleys he loved. he worked at an auto body shop. when he met karen, she was on a downward spiral. she'd recently gotten a divorce and a doctor had just given her some awful news. she had multiple sclerosis at 38 years old. >> to be a young divorced woman with this awful diagnosis, what do you think that did to her? that's a lot to put on your shoulders. >> right. i think that really affected her self-esteem. frankly, i think it may have had an impact on the kind of men that she was attracted to. >> karen came to rely on roc to take her to doctors appointments and injections. when she took the step of asking him to move in, her friends and family thought it was trouble. >> i think that's true. and is it my place to say well,
2:22 am
you need to go find somebody that is going to offer you a better future. >> you can't take that to your kid sister. >> no. you can only fix yourself. >> as it turned out, roc wasn't the fix for karen. the relationship took an ugly turn. >> they seemed to get along for awhile and she was happy. and he turned into not a very nice guy. he was a little creepy. >> was he tough on her? >> there were some unexplained bruises. i used to tell her what are you doing. he did not deserve her. but she wouldn't listen. >> the fights got worse. and police were called three separate times to intervene. one time roc allegedly broke down the front door. it was the last straw. karen filed a domestic battery complaint and roc moved out. even a year later he was harassing karen about a roll top
2:23 am
desk he left behind. >> she was getti inting scared m towards the end. >> he wanted the desk back. >> yeah. but she portrayed it as a ruse. >> the detectives paid him a surprise visit. he wasn't happy to see them. >> i'm in my garage. black unmarked shows up. i'm like, well, everybody knows what that is. i'm thinking what the heck's that? >> detective holbrook identified himself and said they needed to talk to him about karen. >> we set down on the porch scene says well, she's dead. this doesn't register so i said you need to tell me what's going on. >> but the detective wanted roc to do the talking. he asked about the troubled relationship with karen. >> roc indicated he was using drugs and that karen liked to drink. and that they fought often.
2:24 am
>> but roc said he savored the good times with karen too. >> when she got dolled up, oh, my god. gorgeous. picture perfect. wasn't anything out of place. >> were there some sparks there? >> yeah, there was. she was all that. she was just all by herself and ready to go. she looked hungry for attention, and she was alone. and it was perfect. it was the perfect setup. >> what do you think she saw in you? what was working from her side? >> probably the bad boy kind of thing. i wasn't your conventional straight laced kind of guy. >> roc was open with the detectives. even came across as a good guy. but conceded there had been screaming matches and a few rip roaring fights but said she was the instigator. >> she would get violent. she would get physically violent. just stuff. things would happen. but nobody ever got arrested. but they'd come out and address the issue.
2:25 am
>> as roc tells it, she gave as good as she got. that he dodged a few pieces of crockery. >> she was ready to stand up for herself at the drop of a hat. she was a tough girl. >> roc remembers karen playing hard ball about the roll top desk of his not liking her attitude. >> i did call her on several occasions about my roll top desk. that stupid desk. and it was bugging me. i mean, it was a nice piece of furniture and i really wanted to get it back. she pretty much said you left, you're not getting it. >> he never did get it. that roll top was still in karen's condo in oldsmar the night she was stabbed to death. now the detective wanted to know if he had been there too. >> he said where were you on such and such a day. i'm like, well, first of all, i'll have to look at the calendar because i don't know where i was that day.
2:26 am
but i guarantee you i wasn't in oldsmar. so we go from there to discussing where i was, who i'd been with, where i lived. >> so you're getting a serious grilling. >> right. he ends up telling me that we found your name in blood on the wall. >> roc. >> yeah. so obviously i'm a suspect and i acknowledged that. i mean, i'm looking at murder. i'm getting -- somebody's talking to me about a murder. >> roc waived his right to a lawyer and agreed to give his fingerprints and swabbings. it seemed they had found yet another cooperative boyfriend of their victim. >> i said if you're looking for fingerprints, they're all over that home. because i lived there for a year. so you're going to find them. >> did you lose your patience with them? say that's it for the day. >> i did lose my patience when they cut the end of my finger off taking a fingernail. i said now i'm done. >> roc's cooperation had an edge
2:27 am
to it. was he really trying to cover his tracks? detectives were determined to find out. when we come back, a closer look at the man and the clue. the csi of roc. >> i remembered thinking, wow. i wonder if that's what wrote these letters. >> were those three little letters really what they seemed? when "written in blood" continues.
2:28 am
kids make stains i use tide boost to super charge our detergent. boom. clothes look amazing, and daddy's a hero. daddy, can we play ponies? right after we do foldies. tide boost is my tide. what's yours? introducing a revolutionary new mascara. clump crusher...crusher. 200% more volume. zero clumps. new clump crusher from easy, breezy, beautiful covergirl. we don't let frequent heartburn
2:29 am
come between us and what we love. so if you're one of them people who gets heartburn and then treats day after day... block the acid with prilosec otc and don't get heartburn in the first place! [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn. to relieve their sore throats. oh, okay, you don't need to do that. but i don't want any more of the usual lozenges and i want new cooling relief! ugh. how do you feel? now i'm cold. hmm. this is a better choice. new cepacol sensations cools instantly, and has an active ingredient that stays with you long after the lozenge is gone. ahhh. not just a sensation, sensational relief.
2:30 am
2:31 am
wall. and forensic specialist anna cox was wanting to break down the key piece of evidence implicated roc. those three letters in blood. roc. >> you would spend hours looking at these letters? >> i did. >> you actually cut the sheet rock out of the place and took it into your lab. >> yes. i have to look at those letters, everything about them. >> using a high powered microscope, anna did an analysis of the specks of blood that stained the wall as karen was stabbed 16 times. that spatter served as a gruesome canvas of the letters written over it. >> when the letters roc were written on top of it, it didn't disrupt it at all. >> since the specks of blood weren't smeared, that means roc must have been written after it
2:32 am
dried. but how long? >> i had a machine to make spatter. >> in her lab, she used animal blood to test how long it took for spatter to dry on a similar surface. >> when i was able to apply to some sections of card board, then i was able to get some blood and to start writing the word roc. i must have written the word a million times. >> in the lab it took at least 20 minutes of drying time for the forensic specialist could write without smearing the spatter. she concluded there must have been about that much time between the attack on karen and the word roc being written on the wall. next she looked for fingerprints in the letters themselves. sounds impossible, right? >> if she's writing and applying pressure to the wall, you would think that there would be some type of transfer of ridge detail. >> we all have it. unique telltale patterns on every human finger and hand.
2:33 am
but anna wasn't finding that here. rather, she detected an unusual pattern. something almost like polka dots. >> and i thought back to myself, the garden glove on the counter that was missing its pair. >> a garden glove was found in the kitchen. the match was never found. it had a dot pattern. >> where the palm and fingers were, it was like rubber that had the nubs stick up for gardening purposes so it doesn't slip. and i remember thinking wow, i wonder if that's what wrote these letters. >> cox bought similar gloves at a hardware store. after several more days of testing was satisfied that her hunch was correct. anna cox had come up with two important findings. the message in blood had likely been written with a gloved hand.
2:34 am
and it had been scrawled at least 20 minutes a the onset of the attack on karen. she reported her results to the detectives who by then had learned another pertinent fact about their victim. >> karen was exclusively left-handed. and karen's left hand did not have blood smeared on it. >> not only that, when the autopsy report came in, it suggested karen couldn't have written anything with either hand. from what the medical examiner was seeing on his table, was this someone who could dip in her own blood and write roc on the wall? >> absolutely not. much of her spinal cord was damaged by the wounds. >> she was incapacitated. >> incapacitated. it wasn't her. >> karen pannell did not write the letters in blood. it was a huge turning point in the case. and the best news possible for the ex-boyfriend roc. >> she confirmed 100% she
2:35 am
couldn't have done that. she couldn't have done it. she would have been physically incapable of doing it. and it surely wasn't me. i mean, why would you write your own name on the wall? >> police agree. implicating yourself in a murder just made no sense. roc got more good news after police checked out his alibi that he was home on the night of the murder. >> we got his cell phone records. the cell towers he was hitting off around the same time, he's in north port, florida. that's a good, you know, hour, hour and a half away. >> and you went over all these alleged beefs he had with her. >> yeah. and he'd moved on. >> detectives were now ready to move on too. they officially cleared roc. it was a major development. karen's ex had suddenly gone from being a prime suspect to a victim himself. victim of the real killer who tried to frame him for the crime and was still out there
2:36 am
somewhere. >> whoever killed her did know that somebody named roc -- >> somebody knows my name. >> it's part of the story here. >> that's right. but if you think about this, it's not even a smart thing to do. >> roc was right. the pool of suspects had suddenly narrowed to a small handful of karen's intimates who knew him and knew the unusual way he spelled his name. roc. detectives holbrook and melvin were about to take a hard look at all of them. coming up, a surprise in the crime lab. a new clue emerges from something so ordinary, it was almost overlooked. >> you could walk right by and think it had no importance at all. it ended up being crucial in this case. >> could a box of pizza help solve this puzzle? when "dateline" continues. hey sis,
2:37 am
2:38 am
2:39 am
it's so great to see you. you, too! oh, cloudy glasses. you didn't have to come over! actually, honey, i think i did... oh? you did? whoa, ladies, easy. hi. cascade kitchen counselor. we can help avoid this with cascade complete pacs.
2:40 am
over time, the other premium pac can leave cloudy, hard water deposits, but cascade complete pacs help leave glasses sparkling. shiny! too bad it doesn't work on windows. okay, i'm outta here. more dishwasher brands in north america recommend cascade. startling conclusion. karen pannell did not write the name roc on the wall. her killer had. but those three letters were still a gift to police, because investigators figured he had to know both karen and roc. detectives started questioning the other men in karen's life. >> karen had nicknames for her boyfriends. car guy. that was tim permenter. another one that she referred to as dr. pilot. >> dr. pilot, a british airways
2:41 am
captain, had recently been sending karen romantic texts. but he was aboard a flight over the middle east when karen was killed. so he was ruled out. as were most of karen's known male friends. all to prove they were nowhere near her house in oldsmar that night. every guy except car guy, tim permenter. the one who found her body. >> is she conscious? >> no. >> is she breathing? >> i don't know. >> tim was inconsolable during that 911 call and later would tell detectives he'd lost the love of his life. the woman he was hoping to marry. but the people who knew karen best started telling police a very different story. >> i'm not sure why she stayed in that relationship or even begin a relationship like that. >> the relationship began with tim trying to sell karen a new car. but police learned he also sold her a bill of goods about himself. saying he'd been a navy s.e.a.l. involved in top secret missions.
2:42 am
never mentioning the sorted truth about his criminal past. >> karen told me that he explained his scars as he got injured on a mission. >> super commando stuff. >> i think that would have been his thought of himself. >> so why lie to her? giving her a crock. >> there's no excuse for it. rather than if you're an inmate or convicted felon, no matter how good you do, no matter what you do, there's always going to be that specter hanging over you. >> it was several months into the relationship before tim finally revealed his ugly relationship. he was a felon who'd spent more than a felon behind bars. not a navy s.e.a.l., but a violent one-time pimp. the self-described escort king. >> i said i'd been waiting for the right time to tell you this. and she was flabbergasted. i think that she became frightened of me. >> so why didn't you just shake hands and call it quits?
2:43 am
>> because i loved her. >> karen's friends and brother say she told them she was afraid. and when she tried to pull away from tim, brother mike says those fears were quickly born out. >> did you hear evidencetreated? >> yes. she called me and said that tim had choked her. and i felt like after that conversation that i had convinced her to file a police report. >> but no report was filed. still, karen's coworkers could tell something was terribly wrong. >> she had bruising on her neck. one of her friends at work remember her missing a day or two. when she did come in, it was a turtle neck. it was the summer months in florida. you don't wear that then. >> while the detectives chased down every lead, the crime lab made another big discovery. unlike the melodramatic and
2:44 am
bogus message in blood, this evidence was something anna cox almost passed right over. a pizza box of karen's kitchen counter. >> you could walk by and think it had no importance at all. it ended up being crucial in this case. >> cox was able to lift a clean fingerprint from the box. it was tim permenter's. and it blew a hole in his minute-by-minute account. >> he stated he wasn't there when the pizza was delivered. >> he told the officers i was out of there at 7:30. >> well, his fingerprints were on that box. >> and you had a receipt saying it was delivered at 8:48. >> yes. so he has now put himself right there at the scene and right there in the last crucial hours of her life. >> it's a poor set of facts. >> for him. >> and then tim's alibi took another hit. he first said he was home when he called his friend george just after 9:30.
2:45 am
detective melvin found evidence producing otherwise. >> once we get the cell locations back, we are putting him at her house. >> so the tower is catching him in the lie? >> absolutely. his 911 call in the morning, it hits off the same tower as he was hitting off when he called george the night before which is directly north of pannell's house. >> they could only think of one reason for tim to lie about those times. it was that karen's car guy was the killer. they brought him to headquarters again. this time for an official and much more aggressive interrogation. >> he gave the same timeline as he gave previously. we went through it again with him and he held true. at that point we started attacking his story. >> tim had a simple explanation for the timeline problems. he was confused. >> this is what cooperation got me.
2:46 am
confused. >> confused. you know what gets you confused, tim? when you lie. >> when the pizza arrived, i was still there. >> 8:48 delivered. >> and it was right after the pizza arrived -- i would say i was there for maybe another ten, maybe fifteen minutes. >> why do you tell cops 7:30? >> i'm horrible at times and days. and the problem was is that making a mistake became a i'm hiding something. >> cops call your mistake a lie. >> why did you lie to us about the times? you were there 8:30 to 9:30. >> impossible. >> no. pizza man keeps a receipt. keeps track. okay? >> tim had been tripped up by his own statement. and detective holbrook says his suspect knew the charade was over. >> he put his face in his hands and literally covered his face for two or three minutes. tim ultimately looked up at us
2:47 am
and the car salesman guy that we knew as tim permenter had completely left the room. >> what did you see in his eyes and face? >> first thing i thought was that satan just walked into the room. coming up -- >> i knew i was innocent. >> was he? >> juries really like to see forensics. right? the dna, the blood samples. and they didn't have it. >> that was the biggest concern for me. >> the trial and the verdict. when "written in blood" continues.
2:48 am
2:49 am
detectives were now convinced that tim permenter, the boyfriend who pledged to help solve karen pannell's murder, was really the killer. but tim said police had nothing on him and were only targeting him because of his criminal record. >> i didn't do it. i knew somehow, some way i was
2:50 am
going to get pinned on it. i knew it. i knew the minute i saw the body. >> detectives arrested tim and sent him to the county jail. state attorney bill lowry got the case. >> what about your accused timothy permenter. who's he? >> i think he's a psychopath. i think someone who had gotten lucky to be with karen. once she got past the superficial aspect of him and realized what he really was like, she wanted out of that relationship and that ultimately led to her death. >> prosecutor lowry says permenter thought he could outsmart the cops by acting the bereaved boyfriend playing it to the hilt at the crime scene. >> oh, god. >> by the prosecutor says permenter got thrown off his tear-stained script when he called karen's best friend soon after making that 911 call. >> he said kathryn, it's tim. i'm at karen's apartment and she's laying on the floor. there's blood everywhere and
2:51 am
she's been stabbed. >> stabbed. >> stabbed. not she's been dead. she's been stabbed. >> and he tells her on the phone, according to kathryn, that she's been stabbed. >> well, she has been stabbed. >> we didn't know that at that point in time. >> so he knew something crucial. >> he knew something he shouldn't have known because he's the one who stabbed her. >> prosecutor lowry sized up his case. a rejected lover with a violent history. a man the evidence showed was at the scene of the crime and had lined about it. he charged permenter with first degree murder and decided to seek the death penalty. then just weeks before the trial was scheduled to start, tim's friend george solomon, his sleepover alibi witness recanted his story. and how. >> he tells me this full new story that permenter had admitted that he'd killed karen that night. >> blurted out a confession. >> when he got up there. >> so that's a holy cow moment for you. >> it is. >> death penalty cases can
2:52 am
sometimes take a torturous path in reaching a courtroom. this one had taken four long years. and despite building a strong circumstantial case, prosecutors did not have a murder weapon or other physical evidence linking permenter to the stabbing. >> you have a complete lack of physical evidence. no bloody fingerprints. no bloody footprints out the do for. >> but prosecutor lowry was confident about the evidence he did have. >> frankly i think circumstantial cases are sometimes the best. because they don't lie. the circumstances don't lie. people lie. >> and that's the case lowry made to the jury. the circumstances showed tim permenter was the only one with the motive and the opportunity to kill karen. and everything he did afterwards was fabricated to cover up his horrendous crime. >> the issues in this case were the murder of karen by the only person that really could have done it. and that person lied about all
2:53 am
these things. and, you know, there's no reason for a person to lie about the death of their loved one if that's really true. >> defense attorney klapp argued that karen's killer must have been drenched in blood after such an attack. and there was no forensic evidence to show his client was that person. >> in order to buy the state's case, you have to make assumption upon assumption upon assumption. that's not what our system is about. >> how did i do it? how on earth did not one single drop of blood get on my clothing, anything like that? >> or in your car which was ripped apart. >> right. that's why i agreed to let them look. get what you want. because i knew i was innocent. >> the defense also tore into the credibility of the state's
2:54 am
star witness, george solomon. saying it was ridiculous to think tim would get an invitation to stay with him after blurting out a murder confession. >> hey, i killed somebody just now or whatever. oh, really? okay. come on let's go see my wife and kids. no way. >> a confident tim permenter decided to speak directly to the jury. he took he stand in his own defense. >> he attitude was, look, you've got to get up here and talk to these people. >> how do you remember him on the stand? >> i think he was calm. i think he answered the questions as best he could. very simply and i think very completely. we felt that we had made a showing that the state had not met the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. >> mike pannell had waited four long years to get justice for his sister but he wasn't jury what the jury would do.
2:55 am
>> there were times i felt the everyday was circumstantial. >> we know juries like to see forensics. the blood samples. they didn't have it. >> that was the biggest concern for me. >> but it took the jury just four hours to find tim permenter guilty of first degree murder. he was spared the death penalty by the judge who ordered him to serve a life sentence with no chance for parole. >> how you doing today? >> i'm fine. >> i spoke to permenter at the federal institution. he said he was the victim of a murder charge. >> dl d you murder karen? >> no. >> this would be the best time to relieve her family of a lot of grief. >> i did not. i'll probably spend the rest of my life here. and when i'm 80, if i'm still alive, i did not kill karen.
2:56 am
i'll pay for it and i am paying for it, but i didn't do it. >> the detectives who cracked the case say they might have believed him if only he hadn't tried to hard to fake his alibi. starting with those lthree letters written in blood. >> so the hollywood look of it. roc. it bit him. >> bit him hard. he outsmarted himself, and that's why he's in prison. >> roc herpich is able to ride his bike these days but it bothers him someone he doesn't know tried to commit him. >> if you could sit down, what would you say to him? >> i'm restrained? i would not be a good communicator in conversation mode with him sitting there. i couldn't do it. >> mike pannell couldn't do it
2:57 am
either. he'd rather not think about tim permenter and the last moments of his precious baby sister's life. >> i'm not interested in remembering karen associated with that crime. >> it's been a long ordeal for you. >> uh-huh. i want to remember karen as the brilliant, beautiful, young woman she was. >> maybe this smiling person. someone who loved her friends, loved the beach, and died too young. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. this morning on "meet the press," our special thanksgiving weekend state of the nation, as the president prepares for a second term in office. america's influence abroad takes center stage in protests in
2:58 am
egypt. the president seizes more power, undermining the country's democratic reform. the turmoil follows a still fragile cease-fire in gaza as the middle east takes another volatile turn. at home, white house critics press for more answers about what went wrong in libya, and whether officials were truthful with the public. >> i relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. i made clear that the information was preliminary. my guests this morning weigh in. chairman of the armed services committee carl levin. and chairman of the house homeland security committee, new york republican peter king. then where does america stand on the verge of a second obama term in office? the economy, the fiscal cliff talks, the president's priorities in the next four years. our roundtable is here. david brooks of "the new york times."
2:59 am
msnbc's reverend al sharpton. former ceo of hewlett-packard carly fiorina >> historian and film maker ken burns. and nbc chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. and we'll here from representative gregory meeks this morning as we check in on some of the hardest-hit victims of hurricane sandy and see how they offered thanks this weekend while surrounded by destruction. from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is "meet the press." with david gregory. president obama doing his part for the economy over the weekend out holiday shopping as part of small business saturday, picking up several children's book at an independent bookstore iypñarlington. meanwhile, uncertainty in the middle east. more clashes in egypt over the weekend as police use tear gas this morning to disburse protesters in cairo. i want to start there. we havn

Dateline NBC
NBC November 26, 2012 2:00am-3:00am PST

News/Business. Chris Hansen, Hoda Kotb, Josh Mankiewicz. (2012) Detectives find a message written in blood during a murder investigation. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Roc 15, Tim Permenter 11, Us 8, Karen Pannell 8, Tim 5, George Solomon 4, Lowry 4, Holbrook 4, Karen 3, Florida 3, Geico 2, Egypt 2, New Lysol Power & Free 2, New York 2, America 2, Anna 2, Mike Pannell 2, Hahaahahaha 2, Melvin 2, Lester Holt 2
Network NBC
Duration 01:00:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 88 (609 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 1920
Pixel height 1080

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 11/26/2012